Heavy stuff, I realize, but these times call for it. Also, in seeking to create dramatic works, I can't ignore the darker side of reality when it's pressing in on all sides every day. In fact, everything I've done so far in writing fiction has been my attempt at reconciling, or at least understanding, good and evil. This theme is even in my lighter writings and it would be disingenuous of me to abandon it for the sake of "sounding good" or not offending (though I certainly don't intend to offend anyone).
It has long been my desire to not live in a deluded state, never seeing beyond the immediate locus of my day-to-day life and accepting the popular beliefs about what's happening in the rest of the world (which is at best based on propaganda and always qualified so as to be safely ignored). This delusion extends into the stories we as a society tell ourselves about who we are and where we come from. For the first two-thirds of my life I pretty much accepted the delusion, or at least, shed it only slowly. Shedding delusions can be painful. The truth revealed can be hard to deal with, but once you've seen it, you can't go back.
If you follow my journal and my reviews, you'll explore this path with me and if you find the journey to your liking, I would encourage you to read the books I mention. You'll undoubtedly see things I miss, and you'll find your own message in these works that enriches you (even if some of the material disturbs you). But let us proceed with the foundational insight that you have start moving to get somewhere.
Let's start with the three books I moved from my wish list to my reading list. They are:
The Story of B by Daniel Quinn
The Chalice & The Blade (Our History, Our Future) by Riane Eisler
Adventures Beyond the Body by William Buhlman
I recently finished The Story of B and posted my review of it on GoodReads here. The Story of B is part of Daniel Quinn's Ishmael trilogy and I like that work because it hits an important nail on the head in understanding the antecedents to our current predicament.
Through his teacher characters in his books (especially Ishmael) Mr. Quinn points out that our culture--the one that dominates the world today--had its beginnings in the Neolithic era some 10,000 years ago. It was one among many practicing the domestication of plants and animals and living a settled, agricultural life as opposed to hunting and gathering (foraging). This led to food surpluses, spare time, cities, specialization of labor, and population increases.
This was very nice for humanity. People generally lived longer and better though they (arguably) worked harder. Still, they lived peaceably. Their cities were not fortified and excavations show no signs of martial destruction during this time period. Evidence from their art and funeral practices indicates an equality of the sexes in their societies and even a sophisticated religion of goddess worship (see The Chalice & The Blade by Eisler).
Then our ancestors had a bright idea. They decided that they "could have it all" by refusing to follow the law of limited competition. This law is Mr. Quinn's term for a natural law that all life on earth, including humans, followed up until the "agricultural revolution." This law says:
You may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food.
This law (followed naturally, no committees of cavemen drafted it) allowed life on earth to live sustainably within the bounds of the food resources their environment could produce. This is the natural "law of the gods" that allows life on earth to exist in a harmonious balance. Humans came into existence following this law and their early cultures are called "Leavers" by Mr. Quinn because they left the rule of the world in the hands of the gods (see The Story of B).
Our ancestors' culture (that is, some group of Neolithic people among all the others) decided they would take the rule of the world into their own hands. They would be like the gods. Mr. Quinn calls them "Takers." The Takers then began to practice totalitarian agriculture where they violated the law of limited competition at every turn. They hunted down their competitors, destroyed their food and denied them access to their food (i.e., they waged war). And so they subdued the earth, were fruitful, and multiplied.
The Taker culture extended their method of totalitarian agriculture to their own people in denying access to food to their own population unless they worked for it. This went along with the stratification of society into specialists and managers (rulers) and launched a "limitless growth" model. That model was given a tremendous boost by the industrial revolution a couple of hundred years ago. The boost came from the application of fossil fuels to technology that allowed more food production until now when the earth is literally filled with people and is dying from our wastes.
Mr. Quinn makes (to me) the brilliant application of this narrative of human history to the stories in Genesis. The story of the Fall is picture of the emergence of the Taker culture. In eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil (abandoning the law of limited competition) Adam and Eve became like the gods (deciding who would live and who would die by practicing totalitarian agriculture), began a life of toil ("the most laborious lifestyle ever practiced on this planet) and were subject to death (the Taker life "bears with it its own seeds of destruction").
Also the story of Cain and Abel is a picture of the agriculturalist (Cain) killing the herdsman (Abel). They are brothers, but the one took on the power of the gods and decided the other must die. The Takers have been killing the Leavers for ten thousand years.
This is basically the picture presented by Mr. Quinn in his Ishmael books describing why the world is like it is and why we've reached this point. I would add that the Taker culture (called "Dominator" by Eisler), with its emphasis on hierarchy and acquisition of power, rewards sociopathic behavior. So the premise that "the world is run by psychopaths" gains much credence. Is there any greater demonstration of psychopathic behavior in playing God with no concern for human life than geoengineering the planet?
I've begun reading Riane Eisler's The Chalice & The Blade and I see that it supports the basic premises of Mr. Quinn's books. From both, it is easy to see and understand the impetus of Taker culture that has brought us right through the limits of growth to the climax of Taker (if not human) history.
My Dentville books will explore the world beyond that climax and will represent the most positive slant of future events I can imagine. In other words, if the world reaches a Dentville level of existence, it will be by the slimmest of margins.
Here are links to my GoodReads reviews of Daniel Quinn's Ishmael books:
The Story of B